UCB Libraries

BUSM 3003: Feasibility Study Research Guide

  • Research

  • Market
  • Target
  • Industry
  • Sustainable
  • Ask Your


Search Strategy

A little planning at the beginning of your research process will save time. Frame your search strategy in terms of the data pieces you will need for your analysis.


  • What types of information will you need in order to understand your idea's potential feasibility?
  • What might that information look like? Supplier contacts? Market size? Balance sheets? Demographic trends? Competitive analysis?
  • Who might keep track of that information? The Census Bureau? Trade groups? Regulatory agencies? Industry associations? Advocacy groups?
  • Is the information likely to be freely available or hidden behind a paywall?
  • Is there more than one keyword that could describe the idea?

For information on choosing the right keywords and using them effectively, see this guide.


Using the Library

If you do your research away from campus, you may wish to connect through the VPN. The VPN software makes it appear as though you are accessing the Library's subscription resources from on campus, thus reducing the need to log in to each subscription database.

NOTE: Some of our databases require a VPN connection. Those databases are identified with this icon: VPN Only Icon

Problems with the VPN software should be referred to OIT, the Office of Information Technology. Walk-in computer support hours and locations are here.


In addition to books and periodicals in print, CU provides access to a huge number of subscription websites, article databases, and ebooks. Finding these resources can be tricky. If you need a refresher on how to find books, journals, articles, or data owned by the Library, see the "How do I...?" pages.


Google Tricks

Power Searching with Google Quick Reference
Some useful examples are:

  • (brand) strategy filetype:ppt
  • (location) population site:gov


Research Help

Have questions about using the library or databases? Ask a librarian! We're available for consultation via email or in person.



Matt Brower




Office Hours (KOBL 100F):

Wednesdays 3-5


Michaela Willi Hooper




Office Hours (KOBL 200F):

by appointment only




Market Research Reports

Market Research Reports outline the macro trends that impact your market.


This database is the best source for secondary research on demographic, sociocultural, economic, and technological trends.


Mintel offers two types of reports. You'll find reports about a product or activity (i.e. "Ethnic Foods - US"), and reports about marketing to a particular group (i.e. "Marketing to Millennials - US").


For a broad treatment of the American Consumer, see "American Lifestyles 2013." Especially useful is the appendix: Population and Demographics Tables with *some* projections to 2018.


NOTE: Use is restricted to current CU-Boulder students and faculty with a valid Colorado.edu email address. After agreeing to the academic terms of use, click the link for "create a personal profile" and create an account using your Colorado.edu email address.



Frost & Sullivan
This database offers market research reports and forecasts. Strong in medical, engineering, biotech, and information & communication technology (ICT) research.

NOTE: Frost & Sullivan sometimes requires user sign-in to access the reports. If the site asks, enter your first and last name, as well as a valid University of Colorado email address.


Census Bureau Data

American Factfinder is the easiest interface for searching census data, and the best source for freely-available data about the demographic characteristics of the US population.


Competitor SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Strengths and weaknesses are generally internal to the company, while opportunities and threats are external factors. You can find SWOT analyses for most major companies by searching Business Source Complete for "(company name) AND SWOT".


The fastest way to pinpoint economic, regulatory, and natural trends is by looking at some SWOTs for companies in the industry.




Need more? Check out the marketing research guide or the consumer information research guide.




The Local Market

Reference USA VPN icon - US Consumers and Lifestyles

Quantify the size of your target market in a given area based on lifestyle interests, home ownership, and income. Download a list of customers including contact information. Watch the tutorial videos here and here.


Reference USA VPN icon - US Businesses

If you have a target location in mind, use this database to view all the competitors in the area. This video explains how.



Think critically about your business idea. In addition to trade groups or industry associations, there may be advocacy groups collecting and publishing information or data about your target customer.


For example, if you are interested in a product designed for children with autism, you might find relevant local data and contacts through the Autism Society of Colorado.


Who Wants What You Have To Offer?

Once you've defined your target market segment (e.g., long-distance runners), you can use secondary research to determine the size of the segment and whether it's growing, shrinking, or stable.


If your target market is a type of consumer, use the data tables in Mintel reports to define the size of your defined market segments.


If your target market is a particular type of business (e.g., dairy farms), use an industry report from IBISWorld.



In Their Own Words

What do your target customers think? How are they currently meeting their needs?


Read reviews on Amazon or Yelp or see what they are tweeting and facebooking about the competition.


Even More


Need more? Check out the consumer research guide or the marketing research guide.




Industry Profiles

Use industry profiles for a broad overview of the industry including the Five Forces



Search by keyword, major company, or NAICS code, or browse reports (US Specialized Industry Reports are a great place to start).



Trade Publications

Trade associations are often the only place to find current statistics or trends for an industry. Trade associations (also called trade groups, industry groups, business associations, etc.) exist at the local, regional, national, or international level. Many trade associations publish newsletters or journals geared toward the members: practitioners in the industry. Trade journals are very useful for learning the vocabulary of an industry, the key players, and current issues or trends.

These databases are the best sources for trade publications:


  • Business Source Complete covers over 1,200 business periodicals including scholarly, trade, and news sources.

  • Business & Industry has full-text articles from trade and business publications. Good for industry trends, marketing, strategy, operations, and management best practices.


Want to find a trade association for your industry? Just Google your industry and the word "association."


Competitor SWOT Analysis

SWOT analysis: Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Opportunities and threats are external factors that impact all or most companies operating in the industry. You can find SWOT analyses for most major companies by searching Business Source Complete for "(company name) AND SWOT".



Need More?


See the industry research guide.




Competitive Advantage

What's good about your competitors' products or services? What could use improvement or be replaced with something better? What's your unique competitive advantage?

Read reviews on Amazon or Yelp or look for tweets and facebook posts about the competition.


Want to learn about your competition's weaknesses? Use a SWOT analysis. The W stands for weaknesses! You can find SWOT analyses for most major companies by searching Business Source Complete for "(company name) AND SWOT".


Boulder Businesses

Considering Boulder for your venture? The Boulder Economic Council's Site Selection page has lots of facts about doing business in Boulder.


Find a snapshot of Boulder's demographic makeup, or download the BEC Market Profile for more detail.


Be sure to look at the business section of the Daily Camera and the BizWest for news and research about local businesses and businesspeople.



How much of your time and capital will be tied up in finding, creating, and receiving your products or materials? Can you outsource? How easy would it be to replicate your product?



Search for producers and suppliers of equipment, raw materials and custom manufacturing services.



From flash drives to curtains to mechanical parts, AliBaba is a supplier directory for all kinds of products and materials.


Financial Model

Mullins mentions RMA's Annual Statement Studies for information on the economic structure of your industry. The Business Library has these in print on reserve and online through Reference USA VPN icon- OneSource



Research Help

Have questions about using the library or databases for your assignment? Ask a librarian! We're available for consultation via email or in person.



Natalia Tingle




Office Hours (KOBL 200E):

Mondays 3-5

or by appointment

Chris Lovejoy




Office Hours (KOBL 100J):

by appointment only